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HEARTSongs: Horton to Hip Hop

Updated: Feb 4, 2023

Chatham County Historic Marker

How did the verse of 19th-century enslaved poet George Moses Horton touch the lives of the Torrance family of Huntersville’s historic Cedar Grove? Are there comparisons to be drawn between the work of Horton, the first published Black writer in the south, and modern forms of poetry and music? Join us as we explore these questions Saturday, February 18, 2023, from 2:00-5:00 at Huntersville’s historic Cedar Grove and Hugh Torance House and Store for “HEARTSongs: Horton to Hip Hop,” a celebration of local verse and rhyme.

Cedar Grove, Huntersville, NC

Cedar Grove’s doors open at 2:00 for this special event. Kicking off the program is award-winning actor, playwright, and director Michael D. Connor, who will share Horton’s life story as well as dramatic readings of his poetry.

Michael D. Connor

Following Connor, award-winning Davidson College English & Africana Studies Professor, Dr. Brenda Flanagan, offers insight into the artistry and technique in Horton’s work, as well as making connections to contemporary forms such as spoken word and hip hop.

Dr. Brenda Flanagan

Wrapping up the event at 3:30 is our musical guest, North Carolina native lyricist, and rapper Blaza. In this family-friendly show, Blaza will not only perform original songs with live accompaniment but also provide insight into his inspiration and creative process. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear an up-and-coming artist share his gifts in an intimate, interactive, all-ages performance.


HEARTS happenings are free, monthly, place-based gatherings featuring music, visual arts, and lectures exploring local history, nature, and our shared sense of place. HEARTSongs is a free community event with tickets available at HEARTSongs: Horton to Hip Hop.

The Hugh Torance House and Store will be open from 1:00-5:30 offering snacks, beer, wine, sundries, and more. Plan to come early and/or stay late to enjoy the historic grounds and take a tour of the oldest standing store in NC. The Hugh Torance House and Store is one of Mecklenburg County’s few surviving 18th-century structures and is adjacent to Cedar Grove, the 1831 Greek Revival home of James Torrance, son of Hugh and Isabella Torance.

This event is made possible by dedicated volunteers, HEARTS Circle members, Lake Norman Realty, and community donations. All proceeds benefit HTHS’s efforts to further the HEARTS mission of historic preservation, ecological conservation, and forging community connections in our region.

​The Store and HEARTS events are operated by the Hugh Torance House and Store (HTHS), a private 501c3 nonprofit. Group tours and volunteer opportunities for stewardship, preservation, and conservation are available. For more information, visit Give. The historic Hugh Torance House and Store is located at 8231 Gilead Road, Huntersville, NC 28078.

The next event on March 18th explores the site’s Irish Connections featuring Irish music, dance, and the journey of the young Irishman, Hugh Torance who immigrated to America in 1763, and Irish genealogy. For more information and tickets, visit

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